What are ‘air bridges’ and how do they work?
It’s a pair of words that few would ever have seen put together before this year, but it’s now become a beacon of hope for prospective summer holiday-goers. Also known as ‘travel corridors’, these passages will likely be the only way of escaping for a European holiday this summer without any quarantine during or after. But what are UK air bridges, how do they work, and for how long will they be up and running?
What are the current UK rules on quarantine?
Currently, anyone arriving in the UK from abroad will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days. Quarantining is not the same as being in lockdown: you are absolutely not allowed to leave the house for anything, and may be monitored to ensure you are complying with the rules.
For some people this is worth it. A week’s break in a sunny spot abroad might be an acceptable trade-off for fourteen days stuck inside when back at home – some may just be at their desk catching up on work in that time anyway.
But for others, this won’t do. Those who have to go to work to get paid will lose a fortnight’s worth of income in quarantine – and that’s on top of the holiday expenses. It is these people who will be welcoming the rumours about air bridges more than anyone else.
What are air bridges?
Let’s get the disappointing bit out of the way: air bridges are not real bridges floating in the sky. The term actually refers to specially connected routes between two countries that would mean passengers can go on quarantine-free holidays around Europe.
For example, if you were to travel to Italy in June, you’d have to stay in quarantine for 14 days while you’re there and then quarantine for a further 14 days when you’re back in the UK. But now that an air bridge has been put in place, all 28 days of quarantining will be wiped, and you’ll be free to enjoy both your holiday there and your return back home.
What has the Prime Minister said about air bridges?
When Boris Johnson was asked about air bridges at the end of June, he insisted that he would only consider introducing them based on “public health advice”, not led by economic demand.
But it seems increasingly likely that we will see air bridges in place by mid-July, particularly as airlines become more and more desperate for custom in order to stay afloat.
What countries will have air bridges with the UK?
According to the Telegraph, air bridges will at least initially be put in place for short haul journeys to the most popular nearby holiday destinations: flights to Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, and only a handful more are likely to be made quarantine-free.
Will air bridges be permanent?
Like so many things in the time of coronavirus, it’s hard to say. Although the countries being tipped for air links are largely ahead of the UK in their COVID-19 response, places like South Korea and Germany have shown us that second waves are likely if not inevitable, and so there’s every chance that air bridges will have to be moved or temporarily suspended throughout the rest of the year as cases rise and fall.
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